ALC Lutefisk Dinner, November 2nd, 4pm-7pm

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in Blog, From the Pastors

Fishin’ For Tradition? The Lutefisk Saga continues With our annual lutefisk & meatball supper. American Lutheran Church Stanley, ND Lutefisk Poster Supper includes: lutefisk, meatballs, potatoes, with gravy, cranberries, corn, lefsa, homemade pies. Excellent entertainment before, during and after supper. Back by request we will once again offer “take out” orders. Supplement funds have been applied for to the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans [ai1ec view=”agenda” post_id=”2086″]...

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stew•ard n. 1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Blog

stew•ard n. 1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.

Stewardship. It’s one of those words that can either mean so little, or mean so much. It’s an odd word, kind of an antiquated and “churchy” word. But the idea behind that word can go right to the heart of who we are as people. Now normally, I’m guessing when you hear “stewardship” you think, “giving money to the church”. And yet, while giving monetarily is how the term “stewardship” is usually understood, I personally feel that stewardship of time and work is more important than any financial giving. A small definition of financial giving relegates stewardship to just a small corner of our lives Stewardship is ultimately more than how much money you give to the church. It is also how you spend all of your money. It is more than giving your time or work to the church. It is also how you spend all of your time and work. Stewardship is an all-encompassing reality. I have slowly begun to see everything in life, from my money to my environment to my body to my very soul as a gift from God. And if everything is a gift, and stewardship involves how we use God’s gifts, then stewardship involves how we use everything. Stewardship can be broadened to include physical fitness, what we eat, where we shop, where we go on vacation, how much TV we watch, what careers we go into, everything. However, it is difficult to break out into the fullness of this understanding of stewardship. There is simply too much built up behind the definition of stewardship as the giving of money. It seems like every time we talk about stewardship, even in conversations that do address all areas of life, the “giving money” aspect somehow stands out a little more, takes a little more prominence. I know that I certainly project my limited practical understanding of stewardship onto all of my interactions with the term. You see, money is the primary way of giving value to something in our culture. If someone hurts you, the courts can make them pay you money. We rank people based on their net worth and we idolize those at the top. We look at our bank accounts to judge how well we’re doing in life. But you know what? One of the blessings of the Christian Gospel is that we do not receive our value based on money. This is a key counter-cultural issue for Jesus. Just open up the Gospels and chances are you’ll find him talking about the dangers of money, rather than its blessings. Can we as a community follow Jesus down this path, and come to see stewardship as something more than just financial giving?...

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Deep Deep Down

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in Blog

Deep Deep Down

God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10             At some point in my college experience, I encountered the thought of a man named Paul Tillich. Tillich changed a lot about the way I think about and recognize God in my life; or rather I shouldn’t say “changed” so much as “took the words right out of my mouth” or “finally put words to the way I felt”. One of the biggest things Tillich did was to say that it was alright to stop thinking about God as “up there” somewhere. God isn’t up beyond the clouds, hanging out in outer space somewhere. That old way of looking at creation as a three-part universe with Earth in the middle, Hell underneath, and Heaven above is dead. But if God isn’t “up there” somewhere, then is there a God at all? “OF COURSE THERE IS!” Tillich says.             God is depth. God isn’t up. God is deep. God resides in the deep places of life and human experience, where words lose their ability to describe a reality too big for them. We all have experiences of this. We all know the tragedy of being “shallow” or “superficial”. I think it’s safe to say we all share a desire for and respect for integrity and depth. God is this depth, this quality, this truth of life. Jesus shows us the depths of God when he takes to that cross for us, when he enters into the depths of human sorrow and tragedy. Jesus does this to show us that it is in these depths when we are closest to God, because God loves us and cares for us deeply.             “So what, Pastor? So you’ve replaced the word “up” with “deep”, what’s the big deal?” It’s a huge deal, dear people. This somewhat simple change of language can transform how you think about and experience God in your own life. Suddenly, God is not some distant super-being, but the delicious mystery at the center of our very lives.             God is deep. And when we know the truth of God as something “deep” and not something “up” then we also can stop measuring the success of our lives on numbers that go “up” and start measuring success on qualities that go “deep”. Here’s one example: we all know that tired but true phrase “Money can’t buy happiness.” There is truth in that happiness is not based on the height of your wealth but the depth of your relationships with other people and with the world around you.             And what of the success of the Church or of our congregations? Again, when we train our eyes for depth we see that true success in a congregation is not measured by the...

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A Time to Grow

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Blog

A Time to Grow

The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” – 1 Samuel 3:8-9  There is an endearing story in the Bible about the prophet Samuel. When he was still a young boy, Samuel heard the Lord calling him one night, but he didn’t know it. He thought it was his teacher Eli. So little Samuel goes into Eli and says, “Here I am. Why did you call me?” This happens three times before Eli figures out what’s happening, and gives Samuel some instructions. The fourth time it happens, Samuel is ready. And he responds just like Eli told him, “Speak Lord, for you servant is listening.” That night changed Samuel’s life forever. When God spoke, he told Samuel all of the things that he would do, including make him the greatest prophet in all of Israel. And yet, although God called out to Samuel over and over again that night, Samuel didn’t really understand him until he knew what to listen for. He had to learn to listen to God. He had to learn how to understand God, how to open himself up to hear what God had in store for his life. Summer is finally upon us. School is out and the grasses, trees, and flowers are starting to grow again. Summer is a time of great growth. It is a time where God’s creation soaks up the nutrients of Sun, soil, and rain to blossom into verdant and abundant life. I want to encourage you to take some time this summer to grow. Just like Samuel, when he was growing up, needed to take some time to grow in his understanding of God, so must we. From time to time we need to retrain our ears and eyes and hearts to see and hear God working in our world. This is why I will be leading something I’m calling The Summer Seven. On seven Tuesdays throughout the summer, at 7:00pm, I will be leading an evening of adult discipleship training for the real world. We will worship and work and learn together what it means to be a follower of Christ in our world, and grow together in our ability to see and hear God working in our world. These classes are for adults, which in our parish includes everyone from high schoolers who have completed confirmation to our 100 year old member Anita Anderson, and everybody in-between! Check out The Summer Seven page to find more details. Again, I encourage you, block out Tuesday evenings this summer to grow in the practices of your...

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Water from the Rock

Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in Blog

Numbers 20:7 The Lord spoke to Moses: 8 “You and Aaron your brother, take the staff and assemble the community. In their presence, tell the rock to provide water. You will produce water from the rock for them and allow the community and their animals to drink.” Numbers 20:10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. He said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Should we produce water from the rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice. Out flooded water so that the community and their animals could drink. **************** There’s a scene from the Bible that I haven’t been able to get out of my head recently. All throughout Lent, we used these words to open worship: Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God, who brings us safely through the sea, who gives us water from the rock, who leads us into the land of milk and honey. Amen.Water from the rock. Do you know this story? It’s told twice in the Bible: once in Exodus 17 and again in Numbers 20. Numbers has the more detailed account. It’s a strange, but important story. Lent came and went, but this story of the water from the rock stayed with me. It came up again recently in our confirmation class. We were watching a little video about the life of Moses, and it ended with remarking how the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, but Moses never did. He died on the other side of the Jordan River. God wouldn’t let him cross. And why? Because he hit a rock and water came out of it. The narrator stated this with a very confused voice, and then the video ended. It’s true, God cites this event as the reason why Moses and Aaron can’t enter the promised land. God says to them, “Because you didn’t trust me to show my holiness before the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I am giving them.” And why? How did they not trust God? Was it because Moses struck the rock twice instead of just telling it to provide water? Was it because he claimed the miracle for himself and Aaron instead of attributing it to God? Or was it the state of their hearts that was false? This is a strange, weird story. It’s a story of both miracles and promise, but also doubt and punishment. But it demonstrates an important point: It takes trust to experience the Promised Land. God promises us this Promised Land too. We often call it the “Kingdom of God” and seek it “on earth as it is in heaven”. This is the promise to us of life unafraid of death, of hope unaffected by setbacks, and of love unafraid of enemies and strangers. It takes trust to experience these Promises. Trust that love prevails. Trust that...

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